Southern California isn’t used to the heavy winds and rain that come along with a tropical storm, but in mid-August 2023, Tropical Storm Hilary battered the sandy shores of California and the surrounding areas. Governor Gavin Newsom was forced to declare a state of emergency and Special Election Period from Hilary Tropical Storm.
A major part of hurricane and storm preparation is ensuring everyone has access to the healthcare they need. The state-designated Special Election Period (SEP) for Hilary Tropical Storm allows for enrollment or disenrollment into or from a Medicare Advantage plan outside of the standard enrollment periods. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a Special Election Period (SEP)?
Typically, Medicare members or prospective members cannot enroll or disenroll from a Medicare plan outside of the standard enrollment period. However, during a Special Election Period, qualified members may change their Medicare coverage, whether that’s adding more coverage or removing existing coverage outside of the standard enrollment period.
The current Special Election Period from Hilary Tropical Storm began on August 18, 2023, and will run for two full calendar months following the end date identified in the declaration of emergency or when the end of the incident is announced — whichever is later.
This SEP allows you to change coverage to suit your needs in a time of emergency. However, it’s only applicable for qualified members.
How to qualify for the special election period from Hilary Tropical Storm
A Special Election Period doesn’t mean that anyone can change or remove their Medicare Advantage plan whenever they see fit. It only qualifies for those impacted by Tropical Strom Hilary.
To meet the eligibility requirements for the SEP, an individual must:
- Resides or resided in an area under the state of emergency at the start of the SEP eligibility period; or
- Does not reside in an affected area but relies on help making healthcare decisions from one or more individuals who reside in an affected area; and
- Was eligible for another election period at the time of the SEP eligibility period; and
- Did not make an election during that other election period due to the emergency or major disaster.
If any of these requirements are applicable to your situation, you may qualify to use the SEP to change your Medicare Advantage plan coverage outside of the standard enrollment window.
Need to change your Medicare Advantage plan coverage?
It’s not always easy to understand whether you qualify for the Special Election Period. If you believe you may have been impacted by the state of emergency and qualify for the Special Election Period from Hilary Tropical Storm, please contact us today at (530) 563-7780. The Medicare experts at Health Benefits Associates would be happy to walk you through your options to find the best choice to fit your needs.